New Delhi: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the YSR Congress, which came for a face to face discussion on simultaneous polls to parliament and state assemblies with the Law Commission on Tuesday supported the idea – with certain riders, while the Congress stayed away but aired its opposition to the idea.
Deposing before the Law Commission — that has invited all national and state recognised parties for face to face consultations on simultaneous polls — BJD MP Pinaki Misra said that his party is among the first to have mooted this proposal several years ago and supports it.
“The historical fact is that our party was the first to moot this idea and in fact boldly implemented it in 2004,” Misra said after meeting the law panel.
He, however, said that his party was “strongly against” any dilution of the anti-defection provisions for the sake of prolonging the life of Lok Sabha or any state assembly in case the government loses its majority prematurely.
“Instead we would suggest adoption of the German model by which no vote of ‘no confidence’ can be entertained unless it is also accompanied by a vote of confidence proposal. This will ensure that no government can be vote dout without also at the same time voting in a fresh government,” he added.
YSR Congress Rajya Sabha MP P. Vijaysai Reddy, who came to see the law panel, said that his party was a supporter of the idea of ‘one nation, one election’ in the larger interest of the nation.
“We have supported simultaneous elections for various reasons. We don’t consider this as a proposal that comes from a particular party. In the interest of the development of this country, for optimal utilization of manpower and bureaucracy, ‘one country, one election’ is definitely advisable provided there is a consensus among the political parties,” Reddy said after meeting the Commission.
He said if frequent elections are avoided, the manifesto released by political parties can be implemented “in its true letter and spirit”.
“Once the disadvantages have been addressed… particularly, the anti-defection law has to be amended as it is has been misused by both the Central and state governments in their own interests,” Reddy said, adding that the powers vested in the Speaker to rule on disqualification petitions, should be given to the Election Commission or some other authority.
Though the Congress said that it did not boycott the Law Commission’s proposal of face to face discussion, it did not turn up. Neither did it send any written statement to the panel, saying it has already clarified its views in a letter to the Election Commission.
Rejecting the proposal of simultaneous polls, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that it was yet another “preposterous suggestion by a narcissist and self-centred” Modi government and would endanger the “concept of federalism engrained into our Constitution and multi-party parliamentary system”.
“Large parties with a larger footprint will have more advantages in campaign, spending and publicity and the voices of regional parties would be submerged in the din,” he said.
Rubbishing the Prime Minister’s argument that simultaneous elections would save the exchequer hundreds of crores, Singhvi pointed out that the cost of all elections in the country was still less than the cost incurred by Modi on “self promotion”.
Noting a Parliament Standing Committee estimates the entire cost of Lok Sabha and all assembly elections at Rs 4,500 crore, he said: “We would like to advise him (Modi) to first stop spending Rs 4,600 crore of public money on self promotion and propaganda.”
An RTI query by a Mumbai activist revealed in May this year that the Modi government had spent Rs 4,343 crore on publicity since it came to power in May 2014 on advertisements in the print and electronic media as well as outdoor publicity.